"Is Illuminate India involved in adoption in India?"
Sometimes people assume (because of our personal stories) that Illuminate India must be involved in adoption somehow.
But the short answer to this question is no. No funds raised go to support any adoption related activity.
The majority of the children who are served by Illuminate India, are not available for adoption and will never be adopted. Supporting these children where they are, and helping to break the cycle of poverty for the entire family when possible, is our priority.
Though we aren't involved with adoptions, it is because of adoption that Brie and I met and eventually founded Illuminate India.
Brie was adopted from India as a baby. Both she and I, and a couple of board members have also adopted our children from India. We believe that ETHICAL adoptions are the best option for children who were truly relinquished or abandoned by their first families. As an organization, and as individuals, we reject any form of human trafficking and are committed to the prevention of it. When it came to our own adoptions, we all worked with an agency that had and continues to have a flawless track record when it comes to ethical adoptions.
Out of Illuminate India's four partner organizations in India, only one is licensed for adoption - the Indian Society for the Rehabilitation of Children (ISRC) in Kolkata. ISRC is a wonderful children's home in excellent standing with the government of India. They have a long history of following the guidelines imposed by the government and continually go above and beyond for the best interests of the children who come into their care. Besides their public reputation, I've known the director and staff at ISRC for over 10 years. They are all wonderful, honest people who truly love the children they serve.
Currently, the majority of the children at ISRC who do get adopted stay in Kolkata with local families. The avenue of reunification with their first family is explored thoroughly before an adoption process ever begins. We believe that each child deserves to live out the rest of their lives in a loving family. There are some legitimate circumstances that prevent first families from taking care of their child. In these cases, an ethical adoption may be justified and in the best interests of the child. We also believe that the highest importance should be placed on keeping children with their first families whenever possible. We're supporting this belief through our Career Pathways Project. More to come on this.
There is a core group of special needs children at ISRC who have been there for many years and have not been adopted, even though they are legally free for adoption. Sadly, due to their significant disabilities, most of them will remain at ISRC indefinitely. It's for these children that Illuminate India was founded. The Special Needs project supports this core group of children so that they can achieve their fullest potential and highest level of independence.
How does the Career Pathways Project keep children with their first families? By giving children an education and a career path, they are given the tools to eventually be able to support their own family and raise themselves out of poverty. We'll see ripple effects at first, but eventually as we continue and join in this work with many others out there, the big waves will come.